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APRIL ENEWS 2020




Stay In Place

Road Construction is an essential industry – as well as the activities that support it

COVID-19 Resources

According to Governor Walz Emergency Executive Order 20-20 transportation/public works/road construction jobs and activities are considered essential.

Download Executive Order 20-20

Critical Sector Worker Form

Download & Complete


MnDOT Spring Load

Spring Load Restrictions

The Minnesota Department of Transportation ended spring load restrictions (SLR) in the SOUTHEAST and METRO frost zones Monday, April 13, 2020 at 12:01 AM.

Spring load restrictions are still in effect in the SOUTH, CENTRAL, NORTH-CENTRAL and NORTH frost zones.

Frost zones and restricted routes can be found on the MnDOT load limits map.
Start and end dates and other load limit information are shown at mndot.gov/loadlimits.

Download Notification (PDF)

Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis

Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the MN Construction Industry

The  Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis is closely following the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the MN construction industry. Thank you to those who have participated in the surveys MAPA has been sending out. Please contact MAPA for MAPA-specific survey results.

Construction impact: How COVID-19 is silencing the shovels

by Ronald A. Wirtz, Director, Regional Outreach, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis

Few sectors in our economy play the role of canary quite like construction does. That’s because it takes a certain level of confidence in the future to commit the time and capital needed to turn shovels and swing hammers to build anything, whether a house, storefront, office tower, bridge, windmill, or countless other structures.

That’s why the Minneapolis Fed reached out to construction firms to find out the impact to date that the COVID-19 outbreak has had on the sector in Minnesota. The Minneapolis Fed sent surveys (via email) to businesses through partnership with a dozen construction-related business associations in Minnesota. The survey was executed from Monday, March 23, to Wednesday, March 25. It received almost 550 responses.

In general, the survey found that the coronavirus outbreak has had an immediate impact on the sector in Minnesota, delaying projects and affecting workers and capital expenditures while souring the outlook for 2020. These results are similar to those from a Minneapolis Fed survey of businesses across the Ninth District, conducted from March 18-20.

Hurry up and stop

In normal times, it’s rare for project owners to want to slow down construction activity that has otherwise been given the green light. But these are not ordinary times, and COVID-19 has given rise to a notable pause in many construction projects.

More than half of respondents reported that they’ve had projects delayed that were either active or expected to start in the coming month. The scale of delays varied among respondents, however, with some seeing only a small number of delayed projects; 10 percent claimed a significant number.

One Twin Cities firm said that it has had projects for new retail, medical office, and warehouse space “put on indefinite hold.” It has also had two projects reduced in scope and another shut down “to protect the occupants in another area of the building” for social distancing reasons. A roofing contractor said “three different sizable commercial reroof projects” were set to start but “put on hold due to the current situation.”

The status of future projects was tough to read, respondents said. Nearly one in five said they were unsure about projects whose start was more than a month out. The good news, at least for now, was that confirmed delays on future projects were also lower.

Has your firm halted or delayed any public or private projects

Delays were reported for a wide array of projects, from gaming to government, modular and stick-built homes, and remodeling and new builds, along with commercial, industrial, and energy projects.

The reasons for delays are many, but the main culprit was uncertainty; 56 percent of delays were attributed to the general concern of the owner regarding project viability. But delays were also resulting from a shortage of labor and materials—both of which are exacerbated by the outbreak—as well as a lack of availability of necessary government workers, who play an active role in construction projects by issuing permits, conducting inspections, and performing other tasks. Many are following shelter-in-place orders, unable to give the necessary approvals to keep work moving.

A firm providing professional services to subcontractors said it had reached out to 10 clients and heard a range of reasons for delays. In maybe the most ironic case, one remodeling project was reportedly put on hold because the facility was being considered for repurposing into a COVID-19 care facility.

Concrete spillovers

Project delays, in turn, have broad ripple effects. Construction workforces have taken an immediate hit, with 30 percent of respondents saying they have cut workers; within the next month, that figure is expected to reach almost half.

COVID-19 is having an even more stark effect on capital expenditures. Already, more than half of respondents said they have cut back on capital expenditures like equipment; the expected rise over the next six months is fairly muted—but, again, likely because respondents were more unsure about how this outbreak will unfold over the coming months.

A construction equipment company said that “several jobs have told us to hold new orders and wait for further instruction.” A central Minnesota contractor noted, “There is a lot of uncertainty and change going on this year. Those two typically slow the flow of money toward capital expenditures.”

Construction projects often entail an enormous and diverse supply list. Tariffs and other trade policy had already made some overseas supply chains more complicated. Coronavirus adds even more kinks to that chain, both overseas and domestically, according to firms.

How has COVID-19 changed your firm's outlook for 2020?

Still, supply chain concerns lag those related to customer demand. Nearly two-thirds of respondents reported negative effects of coronavirus on demand for construction projects; that sentiment is expected to intensify further in the future.

Not all firms or sub-sectors in the construction field reported identical effects from the current outbreak. The survey offers some general insights based on the trade group that respondents self-identified into.

For example, among respondents from the Associated General Contractors of Minnesota, one-third saw delays in active or near-term projects. That compares with more than 60 percent for respondents from the American Institute of Architects Minnesota. Due to differing response rates among the 12 partnering organizations, however, such results cannot necessarily be considered representative.

The largest subgroup of responders (194) came from Housing First Minnesota, which represents home builders, mostly in the Twin Cities. Compared with respondents from other industry associations, this group also saw slightly more elevated rates of delayed projects and negative effects on customer demand, as well as supply chain difficulties. But Twin Cities home builders had mostly similar rates to the overall group when it came to staffing, capital expenditure reductions, and a souring overall outlook.

Lucky us?

Given all of these factors, it’s not hard to predict where group optimism lies among construction firms. Earlier this year, before coronavirus, respondents had a notably optimistic outlook for 2020; seven in 10 had a positive outlook, and a large majority of this group had a very optimistic view for the upcoming year.

But COVID-19 has since wreaked havoc on that view; more than eight in 10 had a pessimistic outlook for 2020, and fewer than one in 10 had any optimism.

The sector has caught a few modest breaks recently, the most notable being the designation as an essential industry by Gov. Tim Walz, allowing firms to continue working rather than shutting down and having workers sent home to shelter in place.

Warming temperatures will also pull the tarp off job sites, making them safer places for work to continue. One respondent pointed to a project in Bemidji, “where winter is still raging, and work needs to take place under a temporary, heated enclosure”—tight confines that some workers understandably choose not to enter, causing project delays.

How COVID-19 affects the state’s construction sector—and the Ninth District economy in general—going forward will be a matter closely tracked (and written about) by the Minneapolis Fed. What’s clear at the moment is that COVID-19 has had a large and negative effect to date, with the expectation that short-term conditions will likely worsen, but much uncertainty remains about what lies ahead.

This survey was also conducted immediately before the final, $2 trillion emergency aid package was passed by Congress, and the Minneapolis Fed will be assessing the economic impact and efficacy of the stimulus package on construction and other sectors of the Ninth District economy.

For now, respondents made clear that their financial margin is narrowing quickly under these extraordinary circumstances. “The jobs aren’t coming in,” said a Twin Cities plumbing firm. “The phone isn’t ringing. That means the plumbers aren’t going out.”

A contractor in northeastern Minnesota said that before coronavirus, the firm was very optimistic about the coming year. That has flipped 180 degrees to very pessimistic. “Contracts that were going to be signed now are not at all.” The respondent said much of their work came from the restaurant industry and, given its recent, indefinite shutdown, “we are laying off more employees each week.”

This survey was conducted with the assistance of Aggregate & Ready Mix Association of Minnesota, American Council of Engineering Companies of Minnesota, American Institute of Architects Minnesota, Associated Builders and Contractors of Minnesota, Associated General Contractors of Minnesota, Housing First Minnesota, Minnesota Asphalt Pavement Association, Minnesota Builders Exchange, Minnesota Construction Association, Minnesota Electrical Association, Minnesota Subcontractors Association, and Minnesota Utility Contractors Association.

Article Information


Alert

Traffic Safety Alert

Area of Caution

MN Trunk Highway 55 and the area of Doyle Path (Rosemount)

Issue

In the past two months, the Department of Public Safety reported two major crashes involving private and commercial motor vehicles (dump trucks) on MN Trunk Highway 55 and the area of Doyle Path. These incidents are under investigation. However, the crashes have resulted in 2 people killed, 1 seriously injured, and many others injured.

Hwy 55 & Doyle path

Hwy 55 Alert

Background

The overall daily traffic count between MNTH 55 between Hastings and USTH 52 has increased over 40% over the past two decades and this number will only continue to grow based on the continued residential growth in the southeast metro area. Many commercial vehicles are making left-hand turns while heading east on MNTH 55, and many others are required by law to stop at the railroad crossing.

Action Requested

All road users should use extra caution in this area to prevent crashes, particularly when drivers are making left turns. Drivers should keep their eyes up and vehicle speed down while maintaining a safe following distance and using other defensive driving skills. It is important to remember that utilizing the right shoulder to pass a slow or stopped vehicle is illegal in Minnesota. Cell phone use in a non-hands-free mode has been prohibited while operating a commercial vehicle since 2012. Hands-free doesn’t completely equate to distracted-free. Put the distractions away – think safety first.

Download PDF


Dig, Pave, and Drive to the Top (Golf) RESCHEDULED to September 2nd

Top Golf

The Transportation Alliance Minnesota Utility Contractors Association Minnesota Asphalt Pavement Association

Three Great Organizations; One Stellar Opportunity!

The safety of our members and their families is of paramount importance. With the rapidly evolving outbreak of COVID-19, MAPA, MUCA and MTA have agreed that it’s in the best interest of our community to reschedule to Wednesday, September 2nd, 2020.

When: Wednesday, September 2, 2020, 3:00-6:00pm
Where: Top Golf, 6420 N Camden Ave, Brooklyn Center, MN  55430

A combined event with the MN Utility Contractors Association and the Minnesota Transportation Alliance

 

See Calendar

 

SPONSORS:

"Road to Success" Sponsors

ADS AMERICAN Ductile Iron Pipe Core and Main County Materials

United Rentals

Feguson Waterworks Flint Hills Resources
Hayden Murphy Husky Energy Larkin Hoffman Neenah Foundry RMS SRF United Rentals

Drink Ticket Sponsors

AWC Purple Wave          

Food Buffet Sponsor

ASTEC            

7th Annual MAPA Golf Outing

Summer Golf event is still on (for now!) Monday, August 10th

Golf Outing

Monday, August 10th, 2020
Bunker Hills Golf Club | Coon Rapids, MN  
Registration coming soon! 

MAPA is closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation and is committed to following the guidelines set in place. As of today, MAPA is still planning to hold the 7th Annual Golf Outing and will provide updates should there be any changes. 

Save the Date


Quality Training

NEW! MAPA Quality Paving CertiFIcate Program

MAPA is developing a new industry training program called the MAPA Quality Paving Certificate Program. This training is designed for new entrants to 3 years of experience to asphalt paving. 

Topics will include: Bituminous, Soils, and Materials, Introduction to Plant Management, Equipment Best Practices, Tack Best Practices, and Customer Service and Materials Knowledge. This is intended to be a one-day course.

The program in slated to launch in April of 2021. Become MAPA Certified and show customers that you are a quality paver!

Stay tuned for more information.

Questions: Abbey Bryduck abryduck@mnapa.org

Law Alert from Best & Flanagan

Best & Flanagan
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) recently announced that it will work with regulated businesses to devise alternative means of complying with environmental regulations, where necessary in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Knowing the operational challenges you currently face, we have summarized below the process for requesting relief from the MPCA if COVID-19 is preventing you from complying with an environmental law, regulation, or permit requirement. The types of alternative compliance measures the MPCA may consider include extending reporting deadlines, extending operator certifications, and other forms of regulatory relief.

Email the MPCA with a specific request for relief and reasons for the request.

The MPCA has a specific email address for these requests: MPCA.COVID19REGFLEX@state.mn.us.

At a minimum, your email should:

  • Identify the party requesting the relief by name and permit number;
  • Include a phone number(s) of the person to contact regarding the request;
  • State the specific statute, rule, or permit condition from which you are seeking relief;
  • Include the reasoning/rationale for your request. You should give a 1-paragraph summary of (1) why the peacetime emergency makes the relief necessary and (2) what actions the company took to meet the regulatory requirement before making the request;
  • Include bulleted points of the measures the company will take to mitigate or minimize the potential environmental impacts (if any); and
  • Specify the length/duration of the request for relief, including giving a reason for the requested duration.

The MPCA will monitor this email address daily and will try to quickly respond to requests. 

MPCA approval is required before implementing any alternative compliance measures. 

What to do if your request is granted.

If the MPCA authorizes alternative compliance options, you must keep records documenting your implementation of the authorized alternative compliance options, and your activities related to the noncompliance.

Remember that you are still obligated to take all available actions necessary to comply with environmental laws, regulations, and permit requirements.  

Seeking an amendment or extension of your request.

If you need to amend your request, change your approved compliance options, or request an extension of time, you can email the MPCA at the above email address. Include in your email the specific reasons for the requested amendment or extension. 

Please contact our team with any questions regarding environmental compliance measures or any other COVID-19-related issues.

NAPA

NAPA Response to COVID-19

NAPA recognizes the impact the COVID-19 coronavirus may be having on your business, employees, and families. We know the safety and health of your employees is your priority. During these challenging times, NAPA strives to serve as a trusted resource for your company and employees and provide the following information and resources.

Quick Links

Health & Safety Our Health & Safety page provides important information about coronavirus symptoms and steps employers can take to educate themselves and their employees to help prevent the spread of the disease.
Legislative Updates  Our legislative page includes the latest developments on the Hill, including coronavirus bills and disaster assistance for small businesses.
Business Impacts and ContinuityVisit this section to see resources assembled for you and your business.

2020 Construction Forecast

MNDOT

MNDOT

According to MnDOT’s Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) breakdown, there will be a 6% decrease in asphalt paving projects for 2020. In 2019, there was $297 million in asphalt projects scheduled in the STIP versus the $280 million scheduled for 2020. This does not account for any increases in bonding.

Asphalt continues to be the more cost-effective solution for paving while covering more miles during the construction season. Asphalt projects for 2020 will cover 1,097 lane miles versus concrete at only 253 miles. 

STIP breakdown

County & City

Each year MAPA sends a survey to county engineers to estimate tonnage for upcoming projects. Depending on the funding for each county, the amount of asphalt projects varies from year to year.

County Engineer Survey Summary


Commercial 

The commercial market (parking lots, developments, etc.) remains strong with increases expected in 2020. Due to the excessive amount of rainfall throughout the 2019 season, many projects are carrying over into 2020.